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Internet Searching: Evaluating Internet Sources

Provides tips and techniques to make the most out of internet searching.

Why Evaluate Internet Sources

The Internet is full of information, but not all of it is trustworthy and useful...there is no committee or board regulating it for quality and accuracy.

Therefore, it is up to you to determine the validity of an Internet source.

This page contains tips and tricks for helping you determine that validity.

Criteria for Evaluating Internet Sources

Consider the following criteria and questions when looking at an Internet source.

Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the informational content.

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Authority: the source of the information.

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source (i.e.; .com, .edu, .gov, .org)?

Currency: the timeliness of the information.

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional? 

Purpose/Objectivity: why the information exists.

  • What is the purpose of the information (i.e.; to inform, teach, sell, entertain, persuade, etc)?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact or opinion?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs.

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

This is a modified version of a document created by Sarah Blakeslee at Meriam Library, CSU Chico.

A Word About Library Resources

It is worth noting that GRCC Library resources such as books, ebooks, journals and databases have already been evaluated by scholars and professionals, as well as the librarians on staff here.